The Dangers in Over- Parenting - Helicopter Parents

Northern - posted on 01/30/2013 ( 3 moms have responded )

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I am posting this article because I was once too a helicopter parent. I've learned over time the dangers in over-parenting.

Adriana Barton
The Globe and Mail
Published Tue, Jan 29 2013

Adversity was once a fixture in the average kid’s life – from the scant chance of getting into college to the nightly struggle to get enough grub at a table full of ravenous brothers and sisters.

Those were the good old days. According to a growing body of research, failure – and the potential to learn from mistakes – is a rare privilege for kids today. A new study from the Queensland University of Technology describes the alarming degree to which kids are shielded from setbacks, putting them at a disadvantage in life.

The researchers contacted 130 psychologists and school guidance counsellors to identify behaviours they considered to be overparenting. Examples included a mom’s insistence on bringing special food to a party because her 16-year-old was a picky eater.

Worst still, education professionals in the study identified parents who “take their child’s perception as truth, regardless of the facts.” These are the parents who “demand better grades on the final semester reports or threaten withdrawal from school.”

Helicopter parents have become the butt of jokes, but their mindset may not be that far from the norm. The researchers characterized these parents as having “high responsiveness” to their children’s perceived needs and “low demandingness” of their kids. Let’s be honest. When was the last time you told your child to do the laundry or wash the car without cajoling or bribing with allowance?

Overparenting doesn’t allow kids to learn, especially when parents interfere with school, according to Jessica Lahey, an English teacher writing at the Altlantic.com. “You see, teachers don’t just teach reading, writing and arithmetic,” she says. “We teach responsibility, organization, manners, restraint and foresight.” Although these skills are not assessed on standardized tests, she adds, “they are, by far, the most important life skills I teach.”

It’s time for parents to start recognizing the value of true grit, says journalist Paul Tough, author of How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity and the Hidden Power of Character.

Opportunities for “productive failure” are sorely lacking for kids at both ends of the socioeconomic spectrum, he argues.

So the next time your kid gets called into the principal’s office, flubs a soccer game or gets a D on a test, resist the urge to yell at the principal, let your kid quit the soccer team or help him or her study for a retest. Instead, tell your kid to buck up and figure out what to do next.

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Kathryn - posted on 01/30/2013

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Our yard wasn't fenced, and there was a big drop off with a brook at the bottom.
I wouldn't allow our children outside by themselves, until they were 5.
I used to provide childcare for a family, and they wanted me to allow their 2 year old outside by himself, because "he would listen when told, where not to go". I said no, not when I am responsible. We had lots of toys inside, and they can go outside with him, after he went home.

My youngest had a hard time in grade 9. He certainly wasn't a 'perfect' child, and I'm sure he was annoying to his teacher. She would also single him out, to leave the class...even though he wasn't fooling around in class alone.
He had a homework assignment, which was to write about 'his perfect day'. Getting him to do any homework was a feat in itself. He worked on this assignment, and gave it a lot of thought. The teacher gave him a O, because of too many 'mechanical errors'.
Well...my husband, who is very literate, corrected the teacher's notes, and returned them back to her. Then we went to meet with the principal and then the teacher.
The next year he started high school, which had 'hands on training for plumbing,electrical etc along with the school work, and he excelled.Without this program, he never would have graduated high school.

Kids are so different. We never nagged about homework, because I just told them, if they fail the grade, they will be the ones to repeat the grade.

Whenever we would play games together, I never 'just let' them win. They had to do that on their own. They would watch my strategies, and then copy them.

Northern - posted on 01/30/2013

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I was a bit of a mother hen with my oldest one (you know, first time parent and all that). I used to get involved in her school whenever she was bullied even when it wasn't really that necessary. I used to get too involved in her school work by ending up doing her homework because I thought it wasn't perfect enough. I used to worry for her safety because she was the smallest kid in her class and she used to get picked on a lot. So I stood up for her instead of allowing her to stand up for herself. I used to be a neat freak at home, worrying about every mess she made. I had to have everything perfect. It took me until she was in grade 3, to finally let go of my ways... I think it all changed when I realized that I wasn't myself, I was turning into my mother in law! The real change started when my oldest did her first oral speech assignment on her own and won at Legion Level. I saw just how happy she was when she accomplished something on her own without my help. I realized that I was not being a good parent because I wasn't allowing her to be herself and actually contributed to her insecurities.

So I changed my ways... I let them be in charge, I involve them in almost everything, let them cook with me, make breakfast, stack up the wood, clean the house, make mistakes and learn from them. Now, my oldest is in grade 5. She is mostly doing everything on her own. She's pretty popular in school and usually gets straight As. Yesterday, she came home with a D- on her math test. I didn't overeact, I just asked her why this happened and after a while, she admitted she didn't take it all that seriously. She felt very bad, took the test home and redid it on her own. The next day, she returned the papers to the teacher. The teacher was so impressed that she gave her a re-test.I explained to her that in real life, there are no second chances. Failure is part of learning.

Denikka - posted on 01/30/2013

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I can totally agree. Some of the over parenting is ridiculous.
It's one thing to send special food with a child who is severely allergic to certain products. It's another to send special food with a picky eater. Especially an older one.
It's one thing to go in and talk to a teacher about repeated injustices on tests/projects (I've had teachers record the wrong total a number of times, even when, when counted, I should have gotten much higher marks. It's already on the paper, I EARNED that grade, it was just mismarked). It's another to go in and whine and bitch that Jr was tired/hadn't had a balanced breakfast/whatever excuse and so should have their grade bumped up on that merit.

I'm a big believer in natural consequences. I have an almost 4 yr old boy and a 2yr old girl. I frequently tell them that they're going to get hurt doing something. If they don't want to listen, they usually get hurt. I'm not going to let them do something truly dangerous, but I see no lasting harm in a few bumps and scrapes along the way.
I encourage my kids to eat, but I don't force them. If they don't want their food, I'm not going to run off and make them whatever their little heart desires (99% of the time. Really, the only time I even consider it is if they've been sick and not eating for a couple of days). They get what they get, they choose to either eat it, or not. And if not, and we have a treat shortly after dinner, they get the option to go back and finish some dinner and then have some treat, or they get no treat.
My son will be starting school soon. I see nothing wrong with helping him study, helping him do extra work on subjects he's struggling in, etc. But I sure as hell will not be doing his work for him.

I encourage my kids to be independent. Sometimes to my own detriment XD They like to try to do just about everything for themselves. Including cutting their own food (and of course they want to use the very sharp knives), using the toaster (*I* keep burning myself on the damn thing XP) and trying to pour their own milk/juice/water out of very full jugs XD
They (mostly) choose what clothes to wear (and get dressed with minimal help), I make them handle most of their own problems (sibling fights) and right now, we're working with my son on taking responsibility for his own actions (he likes to blame his sister :P and she's too little to defend herself yet :P)
My kids do chores (not consistently, because *I* don't do them consistently, but they get done). They do laundry and my girl unloads the dishwasher. I've recently found a small broom, so they help me sweep (full sized brooms were just too much, a few light bulbs were lost learning that lesson XD)
And, at 2, my daughter changes her own wet diaper. She goes and gets a clean diaper, throws the old one out (she's in pull ups, so it's easier for her) and puts her new one on. The only thing she doesn't do by herself is wipe, and that's just because she's not quite capable of it yet and health is one thing I won't compromise on. But she does try.
I encourage my kids to problem solve and to figure out how to fix their own issues. Only when they've gotten stuck and frustrated will I step in with some help or a suggestion.

There are times when I baby them. Absolutely. There are times when I'll do things for them, even when I know they're capable of doing it themselves. There are things that I'll do for them on a regular basis even though I know they're capable of it, just because *I'M* not quite ready for them to be able to do it.
But for the most part, I encourage their independence. I encourage them to problem solve for themselves, with my assistance if it's required. I allow them to make mistakes and deal with the consequences.
I've never understood the over parenting/helicopter parenting style. We're not raising children. We're raising children to become adults. How can they do that, and be productive, if we DON'T let them face their own bumps along the way? We can't protect them and keep them in a bubble forever.

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